The Cabin In The Woods

7.6 Overall
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Slightly off the beaten path of downtown Montreal you’ll discover Find The Key, or in the native French “Trouvez La Clé”. An interesting company we didn’t know much about previous to our recent Montreal road trip. Ordinarily our initial impressions of a company come from three main sources: What other companies and enthusiasts have told us, what we see on their website, and how our initial interaction with the company owner(s) is like. In this case we didn’t have any previous information from enthusiasts and we only had minimal contact with their owner, thus leaving us with only their website to try and gauge what we should expect. One thing we really appreciated was the amount of information about the room on their website, which gave us a rough idea to expect. Hopefully more companies take their lead from Find The Key’s room descriptions on their website.

Although their website is nice, we got the impression we’d be walking into a company that hasn’t spent too much time worrying about impressing enthusiasts or industry insiders… Add to that impression their entrance was a bit difficult to find, there was only street parking available, and the lobby was fairly sparse only a hard wooden bench to sit on. Done deal right? Well, let’s give it a bit more time, you never know… What’s this? A box was carefully brought over to us in the lobby, with strict instructions that we must collectively pick one of three special “Trouvez La Clé” serums to inject ourselves with (not literally, but there were actual syringes with different coloured neon liquids inside). One serum will add 10 minutes to your time, one will allow you an extra hint in the game, and the final syringe allows you “foresight” of the room by seeing a 360-degree VR picture of the room with some of the puzzles already completed. How AWESOME is that?!! Had it not been for that little addition, we surely would’ve been entering with a far more disappointed feeling. Some of our members also didn’t enjoy walking down a set of old cement stairs into the company’s basement to discover our room, whereas others found this added to the immersion.

What about the room itself then? We were briefed on some final notes outside our room in the basement and then split into two teams. Again our team had some mixed impressions of the build quality. Whereas most of us felt it was an incredibly well built cabin using real wood, others felt there were too many noticeable cutbacks and “paint-overs” on vents and props. There was also a fairly large plexiglass covered area on the ground you couldn’t walk on which mostly obstructed the “call/hint” button. This meant you needed to be very careful when approaching that area to avoid breaking the plexiglass. On the other hand, noticeable attention to detail was shown in the type of props and tech used to portray a real cabin in the woods. Hanging vines and trees surrounded the wooden log cabin with creaking floor boards included! Old lantern style lighting and even mist in the air further highlighted the detail involved. Overall, it appeared our team was either blown away by the quality or they couldn’t stop focusing on some of the odd design flaws.

As you can guess, the team was also split in the immersive feel of the cabin based on what they focused upon with the build quality. Most of the team enjoyed the lighting, the sounds, the sensation, and the eerie feeling of this cabin. The story was fairly developed throughout the experience, and kept some of us guessing what could be next. Others felt the design flaws were a stumbling block to the immersive feel and felt disengaged as a result. Suffice to say, this room’s immersion created quite a bit of debate on the team and highlighted the different preferences of how each ERA member experiences a room’s strengths and weaknesses.

This of course leads us to puzzles. Was there debate here also? No, not really. We mostly enjoyed the selection of puzzles and agreed the earlier puzzles in the game were stronger than the later puzzles. A good variety of puzzle styles and tasks were employed, and many of them allowed for interplay and inclusion of all members. Particular puzzle strengths came from the integration of puzzles into the theme and/or story. Not much more to say here apart from some creative use of tech with some of the puzzles.

Did our team think it was a fun room? It really depends which of us you ask. Most of us had a blast and felt the imperfections were greatly outweighed by the incredible set design, the immersive atmosphere, the interesting story, and how the puzzles integrated nicely into it all. On the other hand a couple of our members felt the odd plexiglass obstacle, the painted over vents, and the weaker last couple of puzzles were enough to question just how good the room is. Would we recommend this room? A very strong “Yes!” comes from the majority, with a raised eyebrow from the rest of team. It’s rare our team is divided on recommendations, but whether it’s a strong “go play this room!” or a passive “it’s ok to play”, all of us would agree it’s on the positive side and worth checking out. This room is best suited for 2-4 moderate to experienced adult players. Accessing the room down the narrow stairwell would also require participants to not have mobility issues… We enjoyed our visit and hope to see more great things coming from Find The Key (Trouvez La Clé) soon!

We want to hear your thoughts! Be sure to comment in the section below or send us a message via ERA’s email, Facebook, or Twitter… As always, happy escaping!

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